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3D Printable Universal Building Toy Adapter Kit Indicates How Technology Will Affect Toy Industry: Click-A-Brick

A new, free, 3D-printed universal adapter kit for popular building toys is a good indication of how 3D printing will affect the toy industry in the future, the team at Click-A-Brick says.

Calling it “just about the best thing to happen to construction toys,” Charlie Sorrell at Fast Company says the Free Universal Construction Kit allows people to print building blocks that act as adapters to enable different popular building block sets to be joined together.

The kit, when printed, consists of 80 pieces that interconnect building blocks from Lego, Duplo, Fischertechnik, Gears! Gears! Gears!, K’Nex, Krinkles (Bristle Blocks or Stickle Bricks), Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, Zome, and Zoob.

A creation of F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab, the adapter kit is accessible as a bundle of files that are downloadable under a Creative Commons non-commercial license, meaning people can share and modify it and, because it’s non-commercial, it sidesteps copyright issues.

"Opening doors to new creative worlds is one major reason we created the Free Universal Construction Kit," the designers are quoted as saying. "Another is that we believe expertise shouldn’t be disposable and that children’s hard-won creative fluency with their toys shouldn’t become obsolete each Christmas. The simple fact is that no toy company would ever make the Free Universal Construction Kit. Instead, each construction toy wants (and indeed, pretends) to be [a child’s] only play set."

The availability of the Free Universal Construction Kit file is an excellent example of how much 3D printing -- which has been around for decades, but has only recently gained mainstream momentum -- can change an industry, including the toy industry, Click-A-Brick Co-Founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza say.

“We’ve already seen that people 3D print their own Legos, so seeing this universal adapter kit isn’t terribly surprising,” Smith said. “It’s just another indication of how power is shifting to consumers with the ability to easily create items from plastic for themselves. Currently, we’re hearing a lot about female characters being left out of action figure playsets that are marketed toward boys. Right now, people take to Twitter or Facebook to share their anger with companies for leaving out female characters, but in the future, it’s not hard to imagine that people will just go ahead and print their own. Consumers are no longer interested in being dictated to by companies about what they want. They are simply creating what they want.”

Not only would the team at Click-A-Brick not have a problem being included in the Free Universal Construction Kit, Smith jokes, but would even consider it an honor to be recognized among the building toys already included in the kit.